Schmerzing Cuirassiers

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Origin and History

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Friedrich Hannibal Baron von Schmerzing - Source: Wrede’s regimental history, scanned by H. Skala

Member of an old Saxon aristocrat family, born in Dresden on Dec. 8, 1693 (Jan. 8, 1705 according to other sources). After studying at the Knight Academy in Brandenburg, he entered in the Bavarian service. In 1731, he joined the Sachsen-Gotha Dragoons of the Austrian Army. In 1742, he was promoted to GFWM. In 1743 and 1744, he served a few months in the Prussian Army. In May 1745, he returned to the Austrian Army where he became proprietor of the present cuirassier regiment. In 1746, he distinguished himself in the battle of Piacenza. In 1754, he was promoted G.d.C.

Schmerzing was Commander of the Teutonic Order (Deutschritterorden) and therefore unmarried. He died on February 24, 1762 in Vienna and was buried in the Viennese Protestant Cemetery of “Schwarze Spanier”

Anecdotes contributed by Harald Skala

Josef Karl Count d'Ayasassa - Source: Wrede’s regimental history, scanned by H. Skala

Born in Mons in the Austrian Netherlands in 1713. In 1734,, he joined the Prinz Savoyen Dragoons of the Austrian Army as ensign. In 1738, he was appointed captain of the horse grenadier company of the regiment. In 1746, he was promoted to major in the same regiment. In 1751, he was transferred to the Serbelloni Cuirassiers and promoted to lieutenant-colonel. In 1753, he became colonel commander of the regiment. In 1757, he was transferred to the Hessen-Darmstadt Dragoons with whom he greatly distinguished himself at the Battle of Kolin, receiving the Knight Cross of the Maria-Theresien Order for his conduct. Promoted to major-general, he distinguished himself once more as commander of the Karabinierkorps at Hochkirch (1758) and Kunzendorf (1762). He had previously been promoted to FML at Torgau in 1760. In 1762, he received the Commander Cross of the Maria-Theresien Order. The same year, he became proprietor of the present regiment and was promoted G.d.C.

After the was, he was appointed governor of Ostend and, in 1765, General Commander in Hungary. Soon afterward, he was appointed inspector general of the cavalry. He died in 1779.

Anecdotes contributed by Harald Skala

This regiment was created on May 13, 1701 from five companies of the Caprara regiment and from five new companies for Field-Marshal Philipp Landgrave of Hessen-Darmstadt. The Caprara regiment was one of the most renown of the Austrian army. In 1632, it had fought with great distinction at Lützen where his commander, Colonel-Lieutenant Count Avogardo was killed in action.

In 1702, the new regiment took part in the siege of Landau. It then served on the Rhine during the campaigns of 1702 and 1703. In 1704, it was transferred to Hungary to fight the insurrection and, on 11 August, it took part in the battle at Bibersburg (present day Červený Kameň/SK). By mid 1710, the regiment was at the army camp at Bónczhida. As early as the end of July, it went to Mediasch (present-day Medias/RO) to take up its winter-quarters.

In 1716, the regiment took part in the campaign against the Turks. It was at the battle of Peterwardein and at the siege of Temesvar. In 1717, during the siege of Belgrade it was deployed beyond the Sava River. On July 17, 1717, it distinguished itself when the Janissaries attacked the unfinished camp of Prince Eugène de Savoie, repulsing their assault. After this battle, Lieutenant-Colonel Miglio was promoted colonel of the regiment for his courageous behaviour. On August 10, of the same year, the regiment suffered heavy losses: 6 officers were killed and six wounded. At the end of May 1718, the army was concentrated near Semlin. At the end of July, the regiment, along with Gondrecourt Cuirassiers, went to the camp at Kovil. After the peace, it assumed garrison duty in the Komitat of Bács, its staff being stationed at Baja.

In 1721, the regiment received one company from the disbanded Veterani Dragoon Regiment.

In 1734, during the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35), the regiment served in Italy where, on June 29, it took part in the Battle of Parma. The carabinier company of the regiment, along with the carabiniers of Mercy Cuirassiers and the horse grenadiers of the Althan Dragoons launched the first attack of this sanguinary battle. The regiment soon received reinforcements from Germany and by July 23, in the camp of Guingentole, it counted 1,115 men despite the heavy losses that it had suffered in the previous battle. It was not present at the Battle of Guastalla. By this time, it was escorting prisoners to Mantua. At the end of the year, the regiment was instructed to form a cordon between San Felice and Finale di Modena. By April 30, 1735, the regiment had melted down to only 460 horses, due to continual fighting and sickness. After the war, the regiment was stationed in Lombardy at Castiglione delle Stiviere, and later at Parma and Piacenza.

On January 12, 1737, FML Franz Baron Miglio von Brunnberg was appointed proprietor of the regiment.

During the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment first fought on February 8, 1743 at Camposanto where it lost 20 killed, 66 wounded and 53 missing. In 1744, the regiment now counting only 516 horses took part in the enterprise against Naples. On May 21, 1745, Major-General Friedrich Hannibal Baron Schmerzing was appointed proprietor of the regiment. On May 6, 1746, the regiment was at the engagement of Codogno were it lost 173 men. The carabiniers of the regiment took part in the Battle of Piacenza where they were converged with other elite companies (the information about the participation of the whole regiment, given by Schels in the “Österreichische Militärzeitschrift”, is incorrect). On August 10 of the same year, the entire regiment fought at Rottofreno and took part in the campaign in Provence in 1746-1747. After the war, the regiment was stationed in Hungary, in the Komitat of Ödenburg (present-day Sopron/HU).

The regiment counted 6 squadrons and a company of carabiniers. For battles, the latter was usually converged with other similar companies to form an elite unit.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment inhaber was:

  • from 1745: Friedrich Hannibal Baron von Schmerzing
  • from March 21, 1762 to 1779: Joseph Count d'Ayasassa

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was commanded by:

  • from 1751: Carl Count Martigny
  • from 1757: Anton Count Barbiano de Belgiojoso (promoted to general on April 22, 1758)
  • from 1758: Anton Maccauer
  • from 1761 to 1767: Sigmund Baron Gabelkoven
  • from 1767 to 1773: August Hannibal Baron von Schmerzing

In 1798, the regiment was numbered No. 10. In 1802, it was re-ranked to No. 6. In 1867, it was transformed into a dragoon regiment, retaining the same number.

Service during the War

Trooper of Schmerzing Cuirassiers in 1750 - Source: Wrede’s regimental history, scanned by H. Skala

At the outbreak of the Seven Years' War, in 1756, the regiment was stationed in the Komitat of Hont in Slovakia and counted 815 men and 800 horses. In July , it was sent to the Banat where it remained until October 8 and then marched to Brünn (present-day Brno/CZ) where it arrived at the end of November. Meanwhile, on October 1, Lieutenant-Colonel Churfeld served outstandingly as volunteer in the role of adjutant-general at the Battle of Lobositz.

At the end of April 1757, the regiment (now 791 men strong) was allocated to Serbelloni’s Corps. On May 1, the regiment reached the camp at Plotiště (near Hradec Králové/CZ). The carabinier company was part of the carabinier/grenadier converged squadrons of FML Count Puebla. Serbelloni slowly advanced towards Prague with his corps but reached the region only after the lost Battle of Prague (May 6). On June 18, the regiment fought under the command of Field-Marshal Daun at the Battle of Kolin where it was deployed in the second line of the cavalry right wing in O'Donell’s Division. On this day, the Rittmeister of the carabiniers of the regiment, Franz Philipp baron Rüdt von Callenberg, on receiving adjutant-general Schulz's report that the Prussian infantry was forming on the hill, immediately attacked them without being ordered to do so. His company suffered very heavy losses, it tried to push back the Prussian infantry but failed to do so. Rüdt and his lieutenant-colonel now fought dismounted. The Prussian advanced against the remaining carabiniers. Rüdt placed himself at the head of a group of dismounted carabiniers and ordered the mounted ones to renew their attack. Meanwhile he also attacked with his dismounted carabiniers. The attack was so successful that he captured three officers, two guns and 37 troopers. Both its colonel, Count Belgiojoso, and its lieutenant-colonel, Baron Sigmund Gabelkoven, were wounded during this bloody but victorious battle. Furthermore, the regiment lost 7 cuirassiers and 58 horses (most of them from the carabiniers) killed, besides the aforementioned officers and 63 men wounded. On June 25, Colonel Martigny was promoted to general, Colonel Belgiojoso took command of the regiment which, as part of the advanced troops of Daun’s Army, followed the Prussians through Münchengrätz (present-day Mnichovo Hradiště/CZ) up to Zittau. In September, the regiment was, along with O'Donell Cuirassiers, allocated to the division of FML Starhemberg, in the brigade of Major-General Count Martigny. On November 22, at the battle of Breslau, the regiment was deployed in count Ludwig Starhemberg's brigade, in the second line of the cavalry left wing under count Stampach, supporting the infantry of the left wing. On December 5, the regiment also took part in the disastrous Battle of Leuthen where it was deployed in Stampa’s Brigade in the second line of the cavalry left wing under FML Wöllwarth. It is not known whether the regiment was with the cavalry units sent to the right wing of G.d.C. Count Lucchesi. After that disastrous defeat, the regiment (now only 311 men!) retired to the region of Königgrätz (present-day Hradec Králové/CZ), its staff being stationed at Nechanice, where it arrived on December 23.

During first months of 1758, the regiment (now between 480 and 500 men) was allocated to the Brigade of GFWM d’Ayasasa at Woleschnitz (present-day Olešnice/CZ). With the reorganisation, a cuirassier regiment now counted 1 carabinier company and 12 “ordinär” companies, organised in 7 squadrons. A company from one of these squadrons was declared a “Reservekompanie”, assigned to garrison duties and to the escort of prisoners of war; another company was considered as a “Depotkompanie” used for recruits and horse training, as well as for invalids and convalescents. The “Reservekompanie” was in Vienna and the “Depotkompanie” in Chrudim/CZ. At the end of April, FM Daun concentrated his army (including the regiment) around Skalitz (present-day Česká Skalice/CZ) and marched to Leutomischl (present-day Litomyšl/CZ). In July, after the victory of FML Loudon at Domstadtl, Daun’s main army marched to Groß Teinitz (present-day Velký Týnec/CZ). Frederick II lifted the Siege of Olmütz and marched to Bohemia and Upper Lusatia followed by Daun’s army. By August 2, the regiment was serving in the first line of Daun’s main army near Jaromirs. On September 5, the regiment (now 600 men) reached the camp of Stolpen. On October 14, the regiment took part in the Battle of Hochkirch where it was deployed in Loudon's Corps, to the southwest of Hochkirch. After Daun’s victory, his army initially followed the Prussians to Silesia. At the end of October, Frederick II went to Dresden and Daun’s Army took up its winter-quarters in Bohemia. In November, Colonel Maccauer was transferred from Stampach Cuirassiers to the regiment and assumed command in place of Count Belgiojoso who had been promoted to general. At the end of November, the regiment arrived at Töpl (present-day Teplice/CZ). By the end of the year, the regiment counted 952 men and 918 horses.

Documents give different information about the order sent to the regiment at the beginning of 1759. In April, the regiment was either allocated to the corps of Gemmingen or O’Kelly. In May, the regiment (779 men, 794 horses) was reviewed near Komotau (present-day Chomutov/CZ). By mid-August, during the Austro-Imperial campaign in Saxony, the regiment was attached to Hadik's Corps. On September 21, it took part in the Combat of Korbitz (aka first combat of Meissen) where it was deployed on the left wing of Hadik's Corps under Major-General Schallenberg. FML Prince Lobkowitz was sent with 5 carabinier companies under command of Colonel Gabelkoven to attack the Prussian flank. Rittmeister Baron Rüdt at the head of the carabiniers noticed that a company of Prussian grenadiers had penetrated the Austrian flank. Rüdt immediately moved his company over a ditch, charged the Prussians and repulsed them. During the fight Rüdt received no less than ten bayonet wounds. He remained lying on the battlefield, was finally captured but escaped on the same evening (two years later, this brave officer would receive the Cross of the Maria-Theresa Order for his distinguished services at Kolin and Korbitz). In this engagement at Korbitz, the regiment suffered the following losses: 4 men and 10 horses killed, Colonel Baron Gabelkoven, Major Weissmann, Rittmeisters Baron Rüdt, Michna and Kesche, First-Lieutenant Hortinger and 83 troopers wounded, Captain-Lieutenant Gottlieb Baron Schmerzing and 49 men missing. In the order of battle of October 5, four squadrons of the regiment along with its carabinier company were assigned to Baron Gemmingen's Corps under General Gourcy. Another of its squadron was assigned to Major-General Brentano's force. On October 29, at the combat of Pretsch, the regiment distinguished itself at the head of the troops of the Duke Ahrenberg. While retreating after this action, the regiment was attacked by General Platen near Sickwitz and forced to withdraw in front of superior forces. It lost 73 men and 87 horses and had 22 men taken as prisoners of war. On November 20, the regiment took part in the Battle of Maxen where 2 of its squadrons along with Jung-Modena Dragoons, Serbelloni Cuirassiers and Bretlach Cuirassiers were deployed in the first cavalry column of Sincère's Corps under the command of Lieutenant-General Count Schallenberg while one other squadron was attached to Brentano's Corps initially posted at Röhrsdorf, 5 km north of Maxen. Its carabinier coy, for its part, was deployed in the vanguard of Sincère's corps under the command of Major-General Josef Baron Sisković. The regiment then took up its winter-quarters around Maxen and Dippoldiswalde.

In January 1760, the regiment (916 men but only 403 fit for duty) was sent to the region between Zittau and Reichenberg (present-day Liberec/CZ). It was organised in 3 squadrons. In April. it went to Seifersdorf, Hörnitz and Hennersdorf (Upper Lusatia) where it joined Loudon’s Corps. On May 29, it was at the camp of Roth-Kosteletz (present-day Červený Kostelec/CZ) where it was deployed in the first line of the right wing, under FML Count Podstatzky. On June 23, it fought in the Battle of Landeshut where it lost only 3 men wounded. On August 15, it took part in the Battle of Liegnitz where, along with Anspach Cuirassiers, Prince Albert Cuirassiers and Kolowrat Dragoons, it courageously charged the Prussian infantry and captured five flags. During this battle, it had to deplore 4 men killed, Rittmeister Pott, First-Lieutenant Globitzer, Lieutenant Conti and 10 men wounded, and 25 men missing or taken prisoners. On August 17, Loudon retreated to Striegau. In October, the regiment did not take part in Loudon’s enterprise against the Fortress of Cosel but remained on the left bank of the Oder River with Liechtenstein Dragoons. In December, it was deployed with FML Drašković’s troops posted along the border of Upper Silesia. It took up its winter-quarters around Zuckmantel (present-day Zlaté Hory/CZ).

In April 1761, the regiment marched to Römersdorf (Röwersdorf, present-day Třemešná/CZ), and later on to Jauernik (present day Javorník/CZ) and was deployed in the first line of the left wing under FML Podstatzky, in the brigade Major-General Belgiojoso. Its carabiniers were under the command of the Duke Liechtenstein and Colonel Count Kinsky. In July, after many manoeuvres, the regiment was allocated to the second line of the right wing under FML Pellegrini; it was brigaded with Erzherzog Maximilian Cuirassiers under Major-General Berlichingen. During the following months, the regiment was relocated to a different position in the order of battle. At the beginning of December, it finally took up its winter-quarters around Braunau (present-day Broumov/CZ). One detachment (186 men) was on outpost duty on the Silesian border. On December 18, the regiment was allocated to the corps of Major-General Bethlen in Upper Silesia. At the end of the year, Colonel Maccauer resigned from his functions and was replaced by Colonel Siegmund Baron Gabelkoven.

On February 24, 1762, G.d.C. Baron Schmerzing, the proprietor of the regiment died. On March 21, FML Josef Karl Count d’Ayasasa was appointed as the new proprietor of the regiment. Between February and March, the regiment was posted around Jägerndorf (present-day Krnov/CZ). On August 16, it took part in the Battle of Reichenbach in Silesia. Colonel Baron Sigmund Gabelkoven distinguished himself particularly in this encounter, being wounded twice and having two horses killed under him. He bandaged his wounds, mounted his third horse and remained on the field until he was sure that his men were victorious. In mid October, the regiment was sent to cantonments around Glatz (present-day Klodsko/PL). Later on, it marched to Bohemia and took up its winter-quarters around Senftenberg (present-day Žamberk/CZ) and Rothwasser (present-day Červená Voda/CZ).

In the summer of 1763, the regiment was sent to the neighbourhood of Chrudim/CZ, its staff being stationed at Leitomischl (present-day Litomyšl/CZ). In the autumn, it marched to its final destination in Körmend/HU.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1762 - Source: Frédéric Aubert from a plate of Richard Couture and Ibrahim90 and from an illustration of the Albertina Handschrift
Uniform Details
as per the Albertina Handschrift of 1762

completed with other sources when necessary
Headgear
Trooper black tricorne (no lace) with a black cockade fastened with a small brass button
Carabinier black tricorne (no lace) with a black cockade fastened with a small brass button
Neckstock black
Coat white with 12 brass buttons on both sides
Collar none
Shoulder strap red fastened with a brass button
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 3 brass buttons
Cuffs red with 3 brass buttons
Turnbacks red
Waistcoat white with two rows of 12 (according to Donath) brass buttons, and with 2 horizontal pockets each with 3 brass buttons
Breeches red
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white (according to an illustration of the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762)
Waistbelt none
Cartridge Box n/a
Scabbard black with brass decorations
Footgear black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth
Arms of the House of Schmerzing - Source: Wrede’s book
red laced with a white braid bordered brick red and decorated with a brick red pattern (according to an illustration of the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762)

N.B.: the illustration in Wrede’s work shows the arms of the House of Schmerzing in the rear corner of the saddlecloth

Sabretache red laced with a white braid bordered brick red and decorated with a brick red pattern (according to an illustration of the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762)
Blanket roll white laced red (according to an illustration of the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762)


Troopers were armed with a black breastplate (worn over the coat), a pallasch (sword) and a pair of pistols. Carabiniers also had a carbine and carried a sabre instead of a sword.

Other interpretations

The Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762 shows a golden lace on the tricorne and a red neckstock.

Raspe shows 16 brass buttons (instead of 12) on each side of the coat. He also illustrates a white waistbelt.

Officers

The officers (according to the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762) wore the same uniform with the following exceptions:

  • tricorne laced gold with a green and white cockade
  • blue saddlecloth and sabretache both laced in red and fringed in yellow

Musicians

no information found

Colours

Leib Standard: no information found

Colonel Standard (hypothetical) – Source: Frédéric Aubert

Regimental Standard: sky blue

  • Obverse: with a double eagle surmounted by a crown, red/white/red breast shield, the Golden Fleece in a frame.
  • Reverse: six columns on a golden hillock surmounted by a gold crown, itself surmounted by a white scroll bearing the motto “Qui ecitine cera” in black.
Regiment Standard – Source: Frédéric Aubert

References

This article incorporates texts from the following book which is now in the public domain:

  • Thürheim, Andreas; Die Reiter-Regiment der k. k. österreichischen Armee, vol. 1 - Die Cürassiere und Dragoner, F.B. Geitler, Wien: 1862, pp. 146-175
  • Wrede, A. v.: Geschichte des K. L. Mährischen Dragoner Regimentes Albrecht Prinz von Preussen, Regent des Herzogtums Braunschweig Nr. 6, Brünn 1906

Other sources:

Funcken, Liliane and Fred , Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

Grosser Generalstab, Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Hiller, Berlin, 1830-1913

Knötel, Richard: Uniformkunde. Lose Blätter zur Geschichte der Entwicklung der militärischen Tracht, 18 Bde., Rathenow 1890-1919

Kornauth, Friedrich, Das Heer Maria Theresias: Faksimile-Ausgabe der Albertina-Handschrift, "Dessins des Uniformes des Troupes I.I. et R.R. de l'année 1762", Wien: 1973

Raspe, Accurate Vorstellung der sämtlichen Kayserlich Koeniglichen Armeen zur eigentlichen Kentnis der Uniform von jedem Regimente. Nebst beygefügter Geschichte, worinne von der Stiftung, denen Chefs, der Staercke, und den wichtigsten Thaten jedes Regiments Nachricht gegeben wird., Nürnberg: 1762

Schirmer, Friedrich, Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756-1763, hrsg. von der KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg, überarb. u. aktual. Neuauflage 1989

Skala H., Österreichische Militärgeschichte

Thümmler, L.-H., Die Österreichiches Armee im Siebenjährigen Krieg: Die Bautzener Bilderhandschrift aus dem Jahre 1762, Berlin 1993

Zahn, Michael, Oesterreichische Kürassier und Dragoner Standarten in Siebenjährigen Krieges, Zusammenstellung, 1988

Acknowledgement

Harald Skala for the history of this regiment